The North Dakota Chapter is in its sixth decade of existence. Certainly, the pending move to 421 Princeton Street is the next episode in our fraternity’s story. However, to fully appreciate what we all share in Delta Upsilon, it is appropriate to examine the first stage of our story. Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview members of the 1834 Colony: Colin Bailey ‘64, Fred Mitchell ‘62, Dyle Muggli ‘61, and Neil West ‘62. Each of these gentlemen had a front row seat to the birth of Delta Upsilon on the UND campus and I hope you enjoy the story.
Charles Lewis, Dean of Men at the University of North Dakota had a desire. He wanted to bring onto campus a fraternity far different from what currently existed in 1959-60 in Grand Forks. The popular Greek houses at the time were Sigma Chi and Alpha Tau Omega. Specifically, he coveted a group that was non-discriminatory, denounced hazing, lacked secrets, and had an academic approach. The story is that he looked at several international fraternities but settled on Delta Upsilon Fraternity as the one to try to colonize at UND.
Concurrently, Fred Mitchell, sophomore at Ripon College (WI) and member of Delta Upsilon was looking to transfer. He was resigned to going back home to Madison, Wisconsin and attending the University of Wisconsin; however, a Delta Upsilon field representative approached him with an offer. If he would enroll at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and establish a colony there, the fraternity would provide him a sufficient stipend. In the Spring of 1960, the two men met. Dean Lewis provided Brother Mitchell with a list. It contained the names of about 12 men. These gentlemen had gone through the rush process the prior semester, but for one reason or another did not pledge any fraternity. Lewis felt that this list was a great starting point.
Dyle Muggli recalls that while residing in Bek Hall, which was considered an “Engineering” dormitory, he met with Clarence “Clink” Gall ’62 and Jim Wickham ‘60 to discuss starting a new fraternity on campus. Likewise, men like Neil West in Sayre Hall/Wesley College were contemplating the same thing, as well as, a group of men who regularly frequented the Lutheran Student Center. It may have been coincidence, but most if not all the gentlemen were on the list that Dean Lewis conveyed to Brother Mitchell. As he remembers it; Brother Mitchell interviewed each of the men on his list separately. They all seemed to have outstanding moral and ethical character. However, one aspect that he found most consistent was, “they all seemed to take their education very seriously. The list was full of Pre-Law, Pre- Med, Engineers, and Teachers. Scholarship was important to these guys.” After interviewing the list, Brother Mitchell made an offer to pledge Delta Upsilon. Every man on the list accepted the invitation. The 1834 Colony was born.
Forming an identity
“We were good students”, Colin Bailey remembers, “amongst the new brothers, we just understood that was one tie that bound us together. We had other associations, too, for example, my cousin, Doug McCleod ‘63 pledged with me.” “We were a mature group for our ages, we knew what we wanted in a fraternity and we wouldn’t tolerate any foolishness.”, Brother Muggli stated. An early commitment to scholarship was reinforced by the group’s decision to require a minimum of a 2.2 GPA to become an initiated member. The UND requirement was a 2.0 GPA, but the brothers wanted everyone to know that “gentleman C’s” was not going to be acceptable at Delta Upsilon. It came to nobody’s surprise that the 1834 Colony achieved the highest cumulative grade point average among fraternities. An accolade that the men of Delta Upsilon would repeat each semester for almost the next 30 years.
Another connection that was dominant in the 1834 Colony was the love of singing. Several of the new members were part of the Varsity Bards. This group, started on campus in 1952 and continues to this day, consisted of men who performed a variety of light and popular works, including the popular UND school songs. They have appeared at state, regional, and national conventions and tour regionally. Several of the 1834 Colony members were also Bards. “Men like me, Craig Gjerde ‘64, and about a dozen others from the first years of Delta Upsilon were also in the Bards.”, Brother West recalls. The brothers that were interviewed all stated that the annual Spring Greek Sing was a major event on the fraternity schedule. For the first 6 or 7 years, the DUs placed either first or second in this competition. One brother remarked, “It was us or the Betas who would win. When we were just a colony, the Betas tried to keep us
out of the competition because they knew how talented we were.”
The 1834 Colony met weekly on the second floor of the Student Union on University Avenue for their meetings. The group was led by the first president, John Malloy, who would convene the brothers after they had a communal meal in the student union cafeteria. Brother Mitchell, since he was already a member of Delta Upsilon, served as the first pledge class educator. “We were going to be different, that’s for sure.” For example, instead of “Hell Week”, which incidentally Brother Mitchell endured at Ripon College, the brothers had a “Help Week”. They went to the local YMCA and voluntarily painted the interior walls.
A move to 515 Oxford into the new Delta Upsilon house only fostered the brotherhood. “It helped that a lot of us were from small towns and didn’t have cars”, Brother Bailey recollected. “This gave us a chance to live together and form a tight-knit community”. Other fellowship activities included eating every meal together as a fraternity, which typically ended with a round of, you guessed it, singing.
Two Yard Hop
One question asked of every brother was, “Who came up with Two Yard Hop?”. This spring fiesta that defined the North Dakota Chapter of Delta Upsilon was present from the beginning, but no one could definitely recollect how it exactly came into existence. Brother West reminisced, “It was an innovation by the 1834 Colony. A party unlike others before it. Originally, the brother would take his date to downtown Grand Forks. He would go to a textile shop and buy two yards of clothing material. The woman was tasked with making her own outfit only, remember this is 1960, out of the two yards. The party and dance were the formal introduction of the costumes and prizes were given out for ‘Most original’, and ‘Most material returned’. Apparently, one brother had a steady girlfriend who was about 86 pounds, and they won that award several times. One other infamous award was the “Brass Spittoon’’ which was given to the brother who had the least appealing date; however, this was done more for razzing as it was usually given to the brother with the most attractive date, as a joke.
I cannot fully express to you the immense gratitude and pride I had for the men from the 1834 Colony that I interviewed. They, along with the other founding fathers. built a foundation for a fraternity that touched all of us. We, as members, can aspire to continue this most magnanimous legacy.